Rabbi Chanan Porat told attendees at the Religious Zionist Education Institution's (RZEI) Leadership Conference on Sunday that "Zionism is about redemption."
Rabbi Chanan Porat, considered one of the foremost leaders of the Gush Emunim movment, attended the leadership conference despite his battle with serious illness. Received with heart-warming applause, Rabbi Porat opened the conference at International Convention Center in Jerusalem where his words generated great excitement and brought many to tears when he spoke.
In his address, Rabbi Porat began with an explanation of how far settlers have come since the Six Day War, describing them as a huge force nothing can uproot. "They say that all beginnings are difficult, but it's always been easy for us. We felt," says Porat, "Our hearts were full. Our Zionism continues in the practical way Zionism's fathers, but adds a layer of Zionist faith - it revealed 'a new light."
"Religious Zionism is not just talking about a land of refuge from the nations," Rabbi Porat continued. "It believes Zionism is about redemption. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda [Kook] emphasized that we were coming home and we have forged the path. "
Rabbi Porat concluded that "We may not always know the meaning of suffering on a personal level or general level, but without faith Zionism will not work. This understanding is what gives us the strength as a nation -- Go Forward!"
Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, opened his speech by praising the RZEI manager Avraham Lifshitz, who has breathed a new spirit into education since taking office. Later Saar said religious education embodies the values of education, sees great value in Israel's true love - the love of the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel - and a great value in national idenity. As Minister of Education, Saar explained, he feels a deep obligation to strengthen the classroom.
Saar noted that since taking office, the Ministry of Education under his leadership increased the religious education budget in many areas, adding thousands of hours of education. He said the budget allowed for a better integration of religious studies into the standard curriculum.
Saar concluded that the Israeli education system also simultaneously strengthens science education and invests in students who have the skills to excel in these subjects. "The purpose of strengthening science education," he noted, "Is that it will allow Israel to retain a qualitative edge in the future."
Also attending the conference were the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, RZEI director Rabbi Avraham Lifshitz, RZEI Chairman Rabbi Avi Gisser, as well as hundreds of educational instituions headmasters, managers, supervisors, teachers and other staff. The conference is part of a week of activities throughout Israel, also including student projects, exhibits and contests, sponsored by RZEI.